How do I know if my spouse is suffering from a brain injury?

Brett Favre came out admitting he has memory loss from repeatedly getting knocked in the head while playing football. The NFL settled the lawsuit over the league having ignored and profited from player concussions and resulting traumatic brain injuries of the players who made the league billions of dollars in ad revenue while ignoring traumatic brain injuries. This is more than just black eye, this is an opportunity to wake up to the reality of the sport of hard knocks. None of this is new to personal injury lawyers because we see clients with concussions, head injuries and TBI every day. From our standpoint it’s less about prevention than about trying to put a life back together because we see people with TBI's after the injury has occurred. Personal injury lawyers are after all the duct tape holding society together. For the NFL it should be all about preventing head injuries, but I doubt that will go very far. I could be wrong, but then again...

I guess we will see won’t we?

Today this man’s question raises the issue once again about how to recognize the client with the TBI. Often times personal injury lawyers hear one thing, but see another. This is one of those cases. The client comes in with what he thinks is a disc problem, and that may be true, but his more serious problem is more likely a serious brain injury. Let's hear him out.

Question: Do you think I can get a good settlement for my accident that resulted in a swollen disc?

Question Detail: I was involved in an accident back in December. The doctor advised that I have a swollen disc. I have been having bad headaches and they don’t seem to be going away. I just had an EEG test and they think that I have a concussion. My speech is very sludge. [Attorney Lombardi: Sludge or did they mean slurred? This is the first sign the client may be suffering from a head injury. The neuropsychologist may diagnose this as aphasia.] I have trouble with my eyes focusing and they seem sensitive to the light. My left leg is painful and I can walk only a short distance. I was not at fault and an 18 wheeler ran the red light as I was going through the green light. My car is totaled. Where do I stand? I am still seeing the doctor and I don't have any income. No income coming in and I am not working because the job I had right now has no hours for me.

Answer: It's probably not a swollen disc, but a bulging disc. Many people have this condition, even though yours may be caused or aggravated by the collision. But I wonder if your condition isn't different than simply a disc problem. You may have suffered an injury to your brain? The symptoms you describe point to a head or brain injury. I have represented other clients with similar complaints and who, like you, did not understand they had an injury to their brain. The person with a brain injury is perhaps the least knowledgeable of what is wrong. After all their brain isn't working right.

Brain injuries are sometimes confused with a head injury. If I slap the side of my head I have a head injury, but no brain injury. On the other hand if my head or skull is impacted with significant force I can suffer a brain injury. A brain injury is referred to as a TBI, or traumatic brain injury. Without a loss of consciousness you usually will recover quite nicely, although not always. The person that suffers a serious head concussion with sufficient impact to cause a brain injury is usually not the right person to ask about how serious it is. They can tell you all the physical symptoms, but try and ignore the more serious mental problems. Ask the spouse and they will tell you all about how different the person is than before the accident. I've even had a father who was a practicing psychiatrist tell me his son was not suffering from TBI, but after the tests came back he was convinced otherwise. 

Some of the Side-Effects of Brain Injury

  • Confusion
  • Loss of the ability to stay organized
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of Short Term Memory
  • Headaches
  • Anti-social Behavior
  • Loss of Impulse Control
  • Loss of Job
  • Marital Difficulties

Sequelae of minor traumatic brain injury.

Katz RTDeLuca J.


SSM Rehabilitation Institute, St. Louis, Missouri.


Minor traumatic brain injury is the most common type of traumatic encephalopathy, with approximately 290,000 to 325,000 new cases occurring each year. Recent research has suggested that both anatomic factors (acceleration-deceleration injury, contusions) and neurotransmitter factors (cholinergic systems) may contribute to the pathologic sequelae. Symptoms may be broadly categorized as physical, behavioral/affective, cognitive and integrative. Patients with mild brain injury may demonstrate significant attention and information-processing impairments in the absence of apparent neurologic problems. Most symptoms abate within the first few months, but a sizable subgroup of patients remain symptomatic up to one year or more. Evidence suggests that patients whose symptoms persist are not simply "neurotic." Rehabilitation efforts should focus on proper evaluation, reassurance, education, support and monitoring of progress.

Most people with a serious head injury and a TBI don't realize what is wrong. They hope all will someday go back to normal. It is up to those around them to get the brain injured person to the right doctor and many times that starts out by finding the right lawyer. If we can help you call us, I have an undergraduate degree in pyschology and I worked at Butler Hospital's psychiatric unit. That helped me early on to understand the effects of a head injury after a car, motorcycle or truck accident. I can help you like I've done for more than 2,000 clients. Don't wait call us today. 

Neurobehavioral sequelae of traumatic brain injury: evaluation and management



Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a worldwide public health problem. Over the last several decades, improvements in acute care have resulted in higher survival rates. Unfortunately, the majority of survivors of moderate and severe TBI have chronic neurobehavioral sequelae, including cognitive deficits, changes in personality and increased rates of psychiatric illness. These neurobehavioral problems are understandable in the context of the typical profile of regional brain damage associated with trauma. This paper presents an overview of the neurobehavioral sequelae of TBI and outlines issues to consider in the evaluation and management of these challenges.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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